United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division, Pikeville
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
E. WIER JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Jamaal Lewis, Sr., is an inmate at the United States
Penitentiary (“USP”)-Big Sandy in Inez, Kentucky.
Proceeding without an attorney, Lewis filed a petition for a
writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 and
has paid the $5.00 filing fee. DE 1. In his § 2241
petition, Lewis seeks relief regarding eligibility for
matter is before the Court to conduct the initial screening
required by 28 U.S.C. § 2243. Alexander v. Bureau of
Prisons, 419 Fed.Appx. 544, 545 (6th Cir. 2011). A
petition will be denied on screening “[i]f it plainly
appears from the petition and any attached exhibits that the
petitioner is not entitled to relief.” Rule 4, Rules
Governing § 2254 Cases in the U.S. Dist. Cts.
(applicable to § 2241 petitions pursuant to Rule 1(b)).
screening Lewis's petition, the Court must address a
motion for change of venue filed by Lewis (DE 4). As
justification for a new venue, Lewis points to two earlier
dispositions: Lewis v. Joyner, No. 7:19-cv-24-REW
(E.D. Ky. 2019), in which the undersigned dismissed without
prejudice Lewis's § 2241 habeas petition for failure
to pay the filing fee, and Lewis v. Kizziah, No.
7:17-cv-6-KKC, 2019 WL 722569 (E.D. Ky. Feb. 20, 2019), in
which then-Chief Judge Caldwell dismissed Lewis's
civil-rights complaint filed pursuant to Bivens v. Six
Unknown Federal Narcotics Agents, 91 S.Ct. 1999 (1971).
See DE 4. According to Lewis, these prior dismissals
merit a “change of venue where he could get a
fair/unbiased judgment based on Sixth Circuit
precedent.” Id. Although styled as a motion
for change of venue, the substance of Lewis's motion
seeks to disqualify the undersigned from ruling on
is required to disqualify himself “in any proceeding in
which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned.”
28 U.S.C. § 455(a). This standard is “not based on
the subjective view of a party, ” Burley v.
Gagacki, 834 F.3d 606, 615-16 (6th Cir. 2016) (internal
quotation omitted), but is instead an objective one,
requiring a judge to recuse “if a reasonable, objective
person, knowing all of the circumstances, would have
questioned the judge's impartiality.” Hughes v.
United States, 899 F.2d 1495, 1501 (6th Cir. 1990)
455(b)(1) further requires disqualification when a judge
“has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party,
or personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary facts
concerning the proceeding.” 28 U.S.C. § 455(b)(1).
In this context, the words “bias or prejudice”
refer to “a favorable or unfavorable disposition or
opinion that is somehow wrongful or
inappropriate, either because it is undeserved, or
because it rests upon knowledge that the subject ought not
possess . . . or because it is excessive in degree.”
Liteky v. United States, 114 S.Ct. 1147, 1155 (1994)
(emphasis in original); see also Williams v.
Anderson, 460 F.3d 789, 814 (6th Cir. 2006). To justify
recusal under 28 U.S.C. § 455, “[t]he alleged bias
must ‘stem from an extrajudicial source and result in
an opinion on the merits on some basis other than what the
judge learned from his participation in the case.'”
Youn v. Track, 324 F.3d 409, 423 (6th Cir. 2003)
(quoting United States v. Grinnell Corp., 86 S.Ct.
1698, 1710 (1966)).
Sixth Circuit has cautioned that “[t]here is as much
obligation upon a judge not to recuse himself when there is
no occasion as there is for him to do so when there
is.” Easley v. Univ. of Mich. Bd. of Regents,
853 F.2d 1351, 1356 (6th Cir. 1988) (internal quotation
omitted); see also Lyell v. Renico, 470 F.3d 1177,
1186-87 (6th Cir. 2006). And, as the Sixth Circuit noted in
City of Cleveland v. Krupansky, 619 F.2d 576 (6th
Cir. 1980), unnecessary recusals waste judicial resources.
Id. at 579. Likewise, granting groundless
disqualification motions encourages judge-shopping. See
Lewis proffers no reason why a reasonable, objective person
would question the undersigned's impartiality, nor does
he make any allegation that the undersigned has knowledge
resulting from any extrajudicial activities or exposure to
this case. Rather, Lewis argues that the undersigned should
recuse because of Lewis's own belief that “either
the Court does not know the precedent [of the issues
presented in his petition], does not respect it, or will not
give the Petitioner a fair and equitable judgment.”
See DE 4. As evidence of the Court's bias, Lewis
points only to his dissatisfaction with judicial rulings in
his other cases. However, “judicial rulings alone
almost never constitute a valid basis for a bias or
partiality motion. . . . Almost invariably, they are proper
grounds for appeal, not for recusal.” Liteky,
114 S.Ct. at 1157. While Lewis may disagree with the
Court's legal conclusions, the proper method to assert
his arguments for a different result- once a final judgment
has been entered-is to pursue an appeal, which he did not do
in either of his prior cases. The Court has considered the
factors under 28 U.S.C. § 455 and determines that
recusal is neither required nor warranted.
to the substance of Lewis's petition, Lewis claims that
his current parole-eligibility date, as calculated by the
Federal Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”), is incorrect.
Lewis first presented his challenge to the BOP's
calculation by way of a civil-rights complaint filed in this
Court pursuant to Bivens. See Lewis v.
Kizziah, No. 7:17-cv-6-KKC. In that case, then-Chief
Judge Caldwell summarized the facts giving rise to
Lewis's argument on parole-eligibility calculation:
On October 6, 2006, Lewis was sentenced by a Department of
the Army, General Court-Martial to a life term of confinement
with the possibility of parole for his convictions of the
following: 1) attempted robbery in violation of 10 U.S.C.
§ 880; 2) murder in violation of 10 U.S.C. § 918;
and 3) aggravated assault with a firearm in violation of 10
U.S.C. § 928. [R. 18, 25-1] While he was serving this
sentence, Lewis was again court martialed and sentenced on
December 16, 2011 to a 4-year term of confinement for his
convictions of: 1) willfully disobeying a superior
noncommissioned officer in violation of 10 U.S.C. § 890;
2) mutiny in violation of 10 U.S.C. § 894; 3) damaging
military property in violation of 10 U.S.C. § 908; 4)
assault and battery in violation of 10 U.S.C. § 928; and
5) kidnapping in violation of 10 U.S.C. § 934. [R. 18-4,
Although Lewis began serving his sentence in Army custody at
the United States Disciplinary Barracks (“USDB”)
at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, he was transferred to the custody
of the federal Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) in July
2012. [R. 18, 25-1] On October 30, 2014, Lewis applied to the
United States Parole Commission (“USPC”) for an
initial parole hearing. [R. 25-1] Lewis states that the BOP
initially calculated his parole eligibility date as September
6, 2015, which coincided with his service of 10 years on his
life sentence. [R. 18; 25-1 at p. 3] According to Lewis,
although he signed paperwork to appear before the USPC, his
case manager at FCI-Hazelton did not turn in the paperwork
because she did not believe that Lewis' parole
eligibility date was correct. [R. 18] According to
Defendant's motion, as the USPC prepared to conduct
Lewis' parole hearing, a USPC employee contacted USDB to
obtain Lewis' records, at which time a USDB employee
informed the USPC employee that, because Lewis was serving a
life sentence, he should not be eligible for parole until he
has served 20 years of his life sentence. [R. 25; 25-1 at p.
11] Thus, according to the USDB employee, Lewis' parole
eligibility date should be changed to September 5, 2025.
Accordingly, the BOP changed its computation to correct
Lewis' parole eligibility date to September 5, 2025. [R.
18-4 at p. 4] Lewis claims that the BOP is now wrongfully
denying him parole privileges because it is enforcing an
allegedly inaccurate parole eligibility date. Lewis filed
this lawsuit as a ...